Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

Molten chocolate cake or lava cake is a popular dessert that combines the elements of a flourless chocolate cake (sometimes called a chocolate decadence cake) and a soufflé. Some other names used are chocolate fondant, chocolate moelleux and chocolate lava cake.

Molten lava cakes are always baked in ramekin dishes and have four main ingredients: butter, eggs, sugar, and chocolate. The butter and chocolate are melted together, while the eggs are either whisked with the sugar to form a thick paste, producing a denser finished product; or are separated so the egg whites can be whipped into an egg foam to provide more lift (and thus a lighter cake) when the mixture is baked.

Rather than presenting only the cake itself in a ramekin or on a plate, the baker may choose to make the cake more appealing. Fresh raspberries, a drizzling of raspberry and/or chocolate sauce, and dustings of powdered sugar may be added to enhance flavor, or a sprig of mint may look more appealing as well. For a more intense chocolate taste, the baker may also add a tablespoon of strong coffee.

The United States-based chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten claims to have invented molten chocolate cake in New York City in 1987, but the French chef and chocolatier Jacques Torres has disputed that claim, arguing that such a dish already existed in France. According to Vongerichten, he pulled a chocolate sponge cake from the oven before it was done and found that the center was still runny, but was warm and had both a good taste and a good texture. Regardless of who invented the dish, Vongerichten has been credited with popularizing it in the United States, and it is now almost a de rigueur inclusion on high-end restaurant dessert menus.

From WikiHow Recipes
Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

3/4 Cup [6oz]
dark cooking chocolate
3/4 Cup [6oz] softened butter
[sweetened, salted
or unsalted as per preference]

3 Eggs
1/3 Cup [5oz]
All Purpose Flour
1/4 tsp Baking Powder

pinch of salt
ramekins in which to bake the mixture
1/2 Cup [4oz] Caster Sugar*

*Caster or castor sugar is often sold as superfine sugar in the United States. It is a pure white sugar ground down to finer particles than seen in regular table or granulated sugar. It differs from confectioners’ or powdered sugar, which typically contains corn starch as well as sugar. Caster sugar got its name because its grains are small enough to slip through the holes of a caster or shaker. Caster sugar commonly appears in recipes for mixed drinks and meringues.

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and mix together well. Beat eggs and sugar together well until nearly white in appearance. For a fluffier cake separate the eggs and blend egg whites separately. Use a bain marie to melt the chocolate. Add the butter to the melted chocolate. Combine chocolate, eggs, and flour mixture [a rubber spatula is recommended but not essential]. Fill ramekins 2/3 full and bake mixture at 320F degrees for 10mins.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || eHow || WikiHow || Image Credit: WikimediaCommons

Monday, September 1, 2014

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco, California. It is considered an Italian-American dish, and is related to various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, which in San Francisco is typically a combination of Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish all sourced from the Pacific Ocean. The seafood is then combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce, and served with toasted bread, either local sourdough or French bread.

Cioppino was developed in the late 1800s primarily by Italian fishermen who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, many from the port city of Genoa. Originally it was made on the boats while out at sea and later became a staple as Italian restaurants proliferated in San Francisco.

The name comes from ciuppin, a word in the Ligurian dialect spoken in Genoa meaning "to chop" or "chopped," which describes the process of making the stew by chopping up various leftovers of the day's catch. Ciuppin is also the name of a classic soup from the region, similar in flavor to cioppino but with less tomato and using Mediterranean seafood cooked to the point that it falls apart.

The dish also shares its origin with other regional Italian variations of seafood stew ("zuppe di pesce (it)") similar to ciuppin, including cacciucco from Tuscany, brodetto (it) from Abruzzo, Quatàra di Porto Cesareo (it), and others. Similar dishes can be found in coastal regions throughout the Mediterranean, from Portugal to Greece. Examples of these include suquet de peix (ca) from Catalan-speaking regions of coastal Spain and bouillabaisse from Provence.

Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew
Cioppino aka San Francisco Seafood Stew Recipe From Wikibooks Cookbook

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
6 ounces onion, chopped
8 ounces of celery, chopped
3 large shallots, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
6 ounces tomato paste

2 pounds diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
5 cups of water
1 bay leaf
2 pounds crabs, any type, cut into pieces
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 pound scallops
1 1/2 pounds tilapia cut into two-inch chunks (or substitute any fish with a white, firm flesh)
2 loaves of San Francisco sourdough bread or any other bread with a chewy crust

This recipe calls for live mussels. Here are some safety guidelines for buying, eating and cooking live bivalves (mussels and clams): Never buy a mussel/clam that's open or cracked. Never eat a mussel/clam that won't open after cooking. Cook mussels/clams within 24 hours of purchasing. Always brush mussels/clams clean before cooking. Remove beards from mussels as well.

Heat the oil in a very large pot over medium heat. Add the fennel, onion, shallots, and salt and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and three quarters of a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and sauté for two minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add tomatoes with their juices, wine, water, crabs, celery and bay leaf. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Add the mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the mussels begin to open. This should take about five minutes. Add the scallops and fish. Simmer gently until the fish and scallops are just cooked through and all the mussels are completely open, gently stirring occasionally. This should take about another 10 minutes. Check the soup for closed mussels and throw them out. Remove the bay leaf. Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and red pepper flakes.
It's customary to serve cioppino with San Francisco sourdough bread. However, any bread with a thick, chewy crust will do.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || Wikibooks Cookbook || Image Credit: Flickr/CreativeCommons

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rabbit Stew aka Hasenpfeffer

Hasenpfeffer is a traditional German stew made from marinated rabbit or hare, cut into stewing-meat sized pieces and braised with onions and a marinade made from wine and vinegar.

Hase is German for 'hare' and Pfeffer is German for '(black) pepper,' although here it refers generically to the spices and seasonings in the dish overall, as with the German ginger cookies called pfeffernüsse. Seasonings typically include fresh cracked black pepper or whole peppercorns, and the following: salt, onions, garlic, lemon, sage, thyme, rosemary, allspice, juniper berries, cloves, and/or bay leaf.

In Bavaria and Austria, the cuisines of which have been influenced by neighboring Hungarian and Czech culinary traditions, sweet and/or hot paprika can also be an ingredient. In the North American pioneer era, German immigrants frequently cooked squirrels in the same manner.

Hasenpfeffer aka Rabbit Stew From ND State University Food and Nutrition Creative Commons
Hasenpfeffer aka Rabbit Stew

1 large or 2 small rabbits,
cut in serving pieces
1 cup vinegar
1 cup beer
1 large onion, sliced
2 Tbsp. mixed pickling spices
1 tsp. salt
6 peppercorns, crushed

3 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
3 gingersnaps
1/2 cup sour cream

Combine vinegar, beer, sliced onion, spices, salt and pepper in a large glass, earthenware or enamel container. Add rabbit, cover and refrigerate for 1 or 2 days, turning several times. Remove from marinade and reserve 2 cups of marinade for gravy. Pat rabbit dry. Dredge in flour.

Dice bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp. Remove from fat and set aside. Add rabbit pieces and brown well on all sides, adding a little butter, if necessary. Sprinkle with sugar, cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, about 1 hour, adding a few tablespoons of the marinade to form steam, if necessary. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the drippings, add 2 cups of the marinade and crumbled gingersnaps. Adjust seasoning. Cook and stir until smooth and thickened. Add sour cream and blend. Add rabbit and bacon bits and heat only to serving temperature.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 166 calories, 3 grams (g) fat and 17 g carbohydrate.

Text Credits: Wikipedia || North Dakota State University Food and Nutrition Creative Commons Image Credit: Hasenpfeffer photo by pommru Wikimedia Commons